Is Howard Schultz a Viable Bet to Win the Presidency in 2020?
If you have been keeping up on the news over the last week or so, you have probably noticed that the name Howard Schultz is being bandied about quite a bit.
Schultz isn’t someone that has been in the public eye very often over the last decade or so, but Schultz initially gained notoriety as the CEO of noted coffee chain Starbucks. Schultz served in that role from 1986 until 2000 and again from 2008 until 2017.
Schultz was also the former owner of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics, who have since moved to Oklahoma City to become the Thunder. The 65-year-old has an estimated worth of $3.1 billion, and he has long been a vocal member of the Democratic Party.
Schultz has long been rumored to have interest in running for political office. He identifies as a Democrat, but he said in late-January that he is “exploring” the idea of running for President of the United States in 2020 as an independent candidate without any affiliation with a political party.
As we saw just 3 years ago, it’s certainly possible for a businessperson with no previous political experience to get elected. Is Schultz a viable political betting option in the upcoming election? Or will he be a flash in the pan, as so many others have been before him?
The early odds aren’t in Schultz’ favor. The field of 2020 candidates was always expected to be crowded considering how polarizing the current president is. Donald Trump has been a source of intense controversy since he first announced his presidential candidacy in the summer of 2015, and things have only gotten uglier since.
Trump’s win in 2016 was shocking to many, oddsmakers included. He entered Election Day as a long shot, but by day’s end he was confirmed as the 45th President of the United States.
At this early stage, there is plenty of betting value on the board. Trump is considered to be the early favorite to retain his post.
A number of candidates have already emerged with plans to challenge Trump, including Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, and Elizabeth Warren. A number of others are expected to follow. Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke and Joe Biden may well throw their names into the ring before long.
BetOnline has Schultz listed at +4000 to win the presidency in ‘20. That’s a marked improvement over where he began. In early January, you could get Schultz at +10000 to win next year’s election.
Schultz is still a long shot compared to some of the other names in the field. As we saw a couple of years ago, though, anything can happen.
The New York Times had Hillary Clinton with an 85 percent chance to win the presidency on Election Day. Trump was at 15 percent. We know how that worked out.
Comparisons to Trump
Schultz’ decision to explore a presidential run has been met with all sorts of different reactions.
Some are intrigued by his potential as a political outsider. Others are worried that his candidacy will siphon votes away from the eventual Democratic Party nominee, which could help Trump’s reelection bid. Some wonder why another billionaire is considering jumping into the political fray.
Early in Trump’s campaign, he threatened to run as an independent candidate if the GOP did not treat him with fairness. That was the leverage that Trump eventually used to his advantage, and it helped him eventually win the Republican nomination.
Trump eventually agreed to support any Republican nominee, even if it had been somebody else like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. Trump understood that breaking off from the Republicans and running as an independent would take votes away from the actual Republican nominee, which would all but guarantee an electoral victory for the Democrats.
Perhaps that thinking will eventually make sense to Schultz, who has said publicly that he wants to do everything he can to ensure that we don’t get another Trump term. Is Schultz trying to use his prospective candidacy for some leverage of his own?
Despite having long identified as a Democrat, Schultz’ views are far more centrist than the modern Democratic Party’s popular platforms. The Democrats are inching more to the left, while Schultz’ views are not.
So, he stands in contrast to what his former party is currently standing for. Schultz is reportedly worried about the climbing national debt, and he believes that some of the Democrats’ ideas, like “free health care for all,” are things the U.S. cannot afford.
He believes that both sides of the aisle have gotten the country to where it is today, which is why he wants to take a middle-of-the-road approach.
A billionaire with no political history running an out-of-left-field campaign? Where have we heard that before?
Can Schultz Win?
The notion that an independent candidate can win the White House may sound crazy at first, but could Schultz change that narrative? One would imagine Trump would welcome Schultz’ candidacy considering a legitimate third party contender would likely do more to divide Democratic voters than Republicans casting their ballots in favor of the sitting president.
Let’s not forget that most elections are essentially quick reactions to the previous one. The 2018 midterms saw a blue wave of Democratic victories, especially in the House of Representatives. Some voters will be looking for something of a calming voice amid the divisive nature of Trump’s own presidency.
Schultz has not mentioned much of a platform to this point, but we have a general idea of what he may stand for. As a billionaire, we know he is already against the left-leaning idea of increasing taxes on the super rich.
Schultz basically said that a big reason for his interest in running is to help fight the bold tax plans of some on the Democratic side of the aisle. Schultz may raise taxes a bit, but not as much as other Democrats would like.
He has already come out and said that Medicare-for-all is too expensive, so he’s more right-leaning on that issue that some other contenders. Schultz has enough money to run his own campaign, as well.
If nothing else, Schultz seems like a viable secondary option for Republican-leaning voters that don’t have the stomach to vote for Trump again. His ideas are not all that different from Trump’s, and one would imagine his more tempered style will sit better with some than Trump’s brash attitude.
Plenty of Competition
As mentioned, Schultz is going to face plenty of opposition if he does officially become a candidate. Still, considering the news coverage he’s getting, it’s hard to ignore the value in taking a stab at him here at +4000. Trump faced even longer odds a couple of years ago, so we know it’s not unfeasible to think a guy like Schultz can make it happen.
Still, I have a hard time believing Schultz will actually stay in the race long enough to get his name onto the ballot.
If he is legitimately concerned about getting Trump out of office, it’s hard to believe he would actually insist on staying in the race with the knowledge that his candidacy could wind up benefiting the sitting president. Unless he’s just that egotistical, which is always something to consider.
The election is still about a year-and-a-half away. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and Election Day in November of 2020.
There is a very real chance that we have forgotten all about Howard Schultz’ brief time in the spotlight by this time next year. More and more candidates will emerge in the coming months, and, unless Schultz sees some Trump-like momentum, I think he’s more likely to just peter out.
So, I’d be taking shots on some of the other long-shot candidates before betting on Schultz at +4000. Even Michael Bloomberg, who is similar to Schultz in a number of ways, looks like a safer bet at +3300. Bloomberg hasn’t announced his own candidacy, but at least he has some history in politics as the former mayor of New York City.
The fact that Schultz has not really set forth any policy ideas has me wondering if he is even all that serious about mounting a real run for the White House.
I will circle back and update my thoughts if things change over the next few months, but for now, I would pass on betting on Howard Schultz to seriously challenge for the presidency in ‘20. Even Trump (+200) is a more viable betting option at this point.